The Mnemonic Mirror

Delving into the looking glass of ‘The Mnemonic Mirror’, a group of artists explore the complexities of memory in the digital age, and the paradigmatic shifts brought on about how we acquire absorb information – from the banal and every day to the obscured and abstract within the abyss of our consciousness.

Once reserved to the edges of the mind, the introduction of the internet and the manic storage of great reserves of data has made past actions and memories easier to access and account for. As a result the past can now be accessed in the present, accounted for and used as a source to determine future actions.

An artist-led curatorial project by Kylie Banyard and Gary Carsley, the selected artists whilst ranging in direction and mediums, are linked by their visual enquiry into the state of memory. From various multimedia to installation the artists involved are, Aaron Seeto, Robert Pulie, Debra Phillips, Archie Moore, Clare Milledge, Linda Marrinon, Deb Mansfield, Emily Hunt, Tony Clark, Troy-Anthony Baylis and Kylie Banyard.

The relationship between memory and creative process are interlinked, as the curators Dr. Kylie Banyard and Gary Carsley outline, “These hazy remnants make-up our own personal archive, which as a catalogue of splintering parts lies dormant, triggered unexpectedly at a later date perhaps by specific olfactory or tactile stimulus. ‘The Mnemonic Mirror’ acknowledges that things remembered and the relationships between them are an important nutrient for artists”.

As a result of the cognitive process in their artistic practices, the resulting works can be seen mnemonic devices for the resulting memories underlying their creations. For Debra Phillips, her latest photographic series was spurred on from a recent unearthing of a wartime photograph of her father.

Through exploring past events and thoughts to communicate issues of the future, memory in all its facets is, as the curators describe, “a ligament connecting the past to the future”.

Addressing the increasingly blurred lines of the past with the present through the introduction of data and the internet, Clare Milledge created a specifically commissioned work for the show, Self-Reflexive Critique: Alpha Mu.  Adopting the medieval painting technique, Hinterglasmalerei, Milledge applied paint to a piece of glass from the reverse side from which it will be viewed, listing various Tinder entries in white paint.

Whilst dating is traditionally a human and personal experience, the intersection of the third party dating app has abstracted this interaction. Tinder is a location-based dating app launched in 2012 that enables direct communication between mutually interested users. However, the use and the meaning of dating as a result has been increasingly diluted. As the artist references, in January 2016 DMR (Digital Marketing Ramblings, Boston, Massachusetts) estimated that there were more than 50 million tinder users worldwide of whom 79% are millennials).

By applying an analogue action to the digital Tinder dating experience, Milledge engages with the tension of the analogue, physical experience of dating that is abstracted through the digital experience of a pixelated image on the Tinder app. The analogue technique greatly differs from the digital uniform text that appears on a screen, the viewer is aware of the artist’s brush and the immediacy of the artist’s action that cannot be mimicked or replicated. Whilst the app depersonalises human engagement – where an individual can be rebuffed by the swipe of a finger – it also records and stores the actions, decisions and preferences of each user on the international dating app. No longer is dating a fond memory, or an awkward date to be quickly forgotten, it is now stored as data to be analysed and surveyed.

Diverse and thoughtfully curated, each section of the exhibition provides a new space of enquiry and reflection. Among all the artists there is a unanimous drive to explore the potential of memory and the past as points of increasing relevance to connect with the future.

The Mnemonic Mirror
Until 1 July 
UTS Gallery 

Courtesy the artists, UTS Gallery and photographer David Lawry

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